WE WERE EXPECTING a fair few ARM partner announcements during the Mobile World Congress and so far we haven’t been disappointed. Texas Instruments and ST-Ericsson have both announced dual core ARM CortexA9 MPCore based products with clock speeds in excess of 1GHz.
Let’s start with Texas Instruments and the new OMAP44xx series. TI will be offering two different models, the OMAP4430 which is clocked at a “mere” 720MHz and the OMAP4440 which will be clocked at 1GHz+. Both models are able to encode and decode full 1080p HD video and are said to offer “digital SLR-like imaging” due to support of up to 20 Megapixel sensors for still image and video capture. We highly doubt that we’ll see actual devices that will offer anything near DSLR image quality, but if these new OMAP SoC’s can deliver quality in the region of current high-end consumer cameras, we’d be impressed.
A PowerVR SGX540 graphics core is also part of the package and it should offer excellent graphics performance, especially considering it should offer better performance than that of Intel’s US15W chipset and the iPhone 3GS, both which rely on previous generations of PowerVR SGX 5-series cores. TI’s development platform does in fact feature dual displays and both can play back 1080p video content simultaneously, or a single 720p stereoscopic 3D video stream at 30 fps. TI is hoping to bring the first 3D-HD mobile device to the world with the OMAP44xx series, although we’re wondering if the world is ready for 3D on mobile devices.
Not wanting to play second fiddle, ST-Ericsson has announced its U8500 SoC which is based around the same ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore as TI’s OMAP processors, but will come in at a slightly faster 1.2GHz. The U8500 is of course also capable of encoding and decoding 1080p video, although it uses ARM’s Mali 400 GPU which seems to be holding it back slightly in terms of graphics performance, as it is limited to XGA resolution which is pretty much 800×600 pixels. This might not have a huge impact on most Smartphones due to screen resolution limitations, but it doesn’t look good on the spec sheet.
The U8500 also has slightly more “limited” camera support, as it “only” supports 18 Megapixel sensors. However, these minor issues are most likely going to be overlooked by handset makers due to the integration of an HSPA modem which will save a lot of cost and PCB space, which at the end of the day is a much more important selling point.
Both the OMAP44xx and U8500 offer support for HDMI output, USB 2.0, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS and a wide range of other features via additional external controllers. TI claims up to 140h of music playback, while ST-Ericsson once again falls a little bit short with up to 120h. Both companies are also touting Android and Flash 10.1 support as part of the key selling points and we can’t wait to see what the handset makers can turn up based on either of these solutions. The only problem is that it’ll take some time before we get to see retail devices in the market, so don’t expect any Cortex-A9 devices until the end of the year at the earliest.S|A
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